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ARTHUR v. LAHEY.

October 1, 1877

ARTHUR
v.
LAHEY.



ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York. In the years 1872 and 1873, Lahey & Co. imported from France certain articles of silk manufacture, on which Arthur, the collector of the port of New York, imposed and collected a duty of sixty per cent, under the eighth section of the act of June 30, 1864. 13 Stat. 210. Among the articles so imported was a quantity of laces which the importers insisted were commercially known as 'thread laces,' and liable to a duty of only thirty per cent ad valorem, under the nineteenth section of the act of March 2, 1861 (12 id. 190), as amended by the sixth section of the act of July 14, 1862 (id. 550). Having paid, under protest, the duty exacted, the importers brought this action for the excess beyond thirty per cent. The judge at the trial submitted to the jury the question, whether the articles were commercially known as 'thread laces;' and the jury having found that they were, there was a verdict for the plaintiffs. Judgment was rendered thereon, and the collector sued out a writ of error.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Justice Hunt delivered the opinion of the court.

Mr. Assistant-Attorney-General Smith, for the plaintiff in error.

Mr. Edwards Pierrepont and Mr. William Stanley, contra.

Referring to the case of Arthur v. Morrison (supra, p. 108) for a fuller explanation of the views of the court, we assume, at this point, as established, the following propositions. A citation and examination of some of the authorities are given hereafter.

1. The commercial designation of an article among traders and importers, where such designation is clearly established, fixes its character for the purpose of the tariff laws.

2. When Congress has designated an article by a specific name, and by such name imposed a duty upon it, general terms in a subsequent act, or in a later part of the same act, although sufficiently broad to comprehend such article, are not applicable to it. Homer v. The Collector, 1 Wall. 486; Reiche v. Smythe, 13 id. 162; Smythe v. Fiske, 23 id. 374; Movius v. Arthur, 95 U. S. 144.

The section of the act is fully set forth in the preceding case.

The government now contends that this section of the tariff act of June, 1864, was intended to embrace every article made of silk; that the concluding clause, laying a duty of fifty per cent upon all manufactures of silk not otherwise provided for, means not otherwise provided for in this section; and that every article of which silk was the component of chief value was intended to be covered by the section. Hence it is argued that recourse cannot be had to preceding statutes to determine the duty payable upon lace made of silk, however it might be commercially designated.

Under the authorities to which we have referred, this view cannot be maintained. A specific designation eo nomine must prevail over general words, and a commercial designation is the standard by which the dutiable character of the article is fixed.

It was proved by the witnesses, and found by the jury, that, although made of silk, the laces in question were commercially known as thread laces. Whether an article is thread lace, it was shown, depended upon the mode of its manufacture,–as upon a cushion, from thread wound on bobbins moved by hand; and that it was equally thread lace whether made of cotton or silk, and whether white or black; and that there are also articles commercially known as silk laces, and articles commercially known as cotton laces; and that thread lace made of linen had been practically unknown for many years.

These distinctions are also well known and recognized in the tariff laws of the country, of which the following is an illustration. In the years mentioned, acts were passed in which the articles were named as here stated, with the different duties upon each.

JULY 30, 1846.

Cotton laces 25 per cent.

Thread laces 20 per cent.

9 Stat. 46, 47.

MARCH 3, 1857.

Cotton laces 19 per cent.

Thread laces 15 ...


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